Tag Archives: Kellie Hultgren

Rob’s Update: 2019 in Review

Greetings all

2019 was my best year ever. Thanks to all the readers who supported my writing throughout the year. It couldn’t have happened without you.

Things I published in 2019:

I’m incredibly pleased at the success of these stories. Four of those, including all 3 Phases of Mars anthologies and The Feeding of Sorrows, earned at least one orange tag.

An orange tag on Amazon signifies it’s a bestseller. Now I can add “Amazon Bestselling Author” to my bio. That’s pretty darn awesome.

I’m also pleased that I still love all six of these tales. I am never pleased with the quality of writing in any of my past stories, because with each new one I get better. However, the tales are all good. I know this because I still cry at the end of each one.

If I don’t get emotional reading my stuff, I can’t expect you to do so either. I still get emotional on all of them.

The biggest negative of 2019 is that I didn’t get None Call Me Mother published. I had even hoped to make progress on Edward 4, but that was always only a faint hope.

Despite that, I’m not displeased with my writing output. I’m up to 93k on None Call Me Mother, so it’s getting close. I chose to write The Feeding of Sorrows instead and it was a great decision.

I also chose to follow Bill Fawcett’s advice. He said to me at LibertyCon in 2018 that I should write more short stories. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t pay attention to him. I may yet be an idiot, but not about this.

My goal is two or three novels a year and four or more short stories. I came really close if I count the words I actually wrote in 2019. I wrote about 75k of The Feeding of Sorrows and about 20k towards its sequel. I wrote about 80k in None Call Me Mother in 2019. I also worked on a couple of special projects I’ll announce when I post my look ahead to 2020. All told, I submitted six short stories (one yet to come), and wrote about 175k of long fiction. 230k or so of fiction is not shabby.

I did this despite not taking care of myself. Following Pennsic, I spent 5-6 weeks in a funk. This was driven initially by fatigue, because I traveled a ton this past summer. Then my brain weasels got involved, chastising me for not being productive, and that spiraled down.

Fortunately, I recovered in time to complete all of the items I had promised to various editors. Had I paid attention to myself, though, I believe I would have finished None Call Me Mother. Ah, well.

I have adjustments planned for 2020. One challenge of being self-employed is that I have to play mental games with myself to keep me from doing stupid stuff, like losing those 5-6 weeks.

I went to a number of fantastic events in 2019. This was my first year as a vendor on my own at Gulf Wars. Drix and I also expanded our booth at Pennsic, and this is exciting. LibertyCon was wonderful and emotional. FantaSci went great, not great for a first time con, but great. So great I’m choosing it over Gulf Wars and Planet Comicon in 2020.

I did all these things while also getting the opportunity to serve as Their Majesty Calontir’s herald in the first half of the year. I love doing that job. Thanks to Donnghal and Catalina for giving me that opportunity. And yes, you totally got me.

My sweetie and I did a bunch of work to the house. We replaced around 1000 sq. ft. of carpet with bamboo. I love this stuff. Nice on my feet and pretty. We also started a new additional closet in the master suite, which had a ton of useless inefficient space.

The closest thing to a true negative are my tracked items, I spun my wheels a bit. I gained a little weight, though I’ve made it through most of the holidays without gaining much extra. My tracked word count, which includes only those things I actually released to the editor or on my blog, would have exceeded my goal had I managed to get None Call Me Mother to my editor, but of course will fall short in its actual number.

My wiki suffered a hacking attack in the spring. I have recovered most of the lost things, but I plan on redoing most entries. I learned a ton working on the 4HU wiki for nearly a year that I intend on incorporating. I’ll talk about that in my 2020 post.

These are my end results. I’ll work on improving them all in 2020.

Today’s Weight: 395.2

Updated Word Count: 146,912

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

I have so many people to thank. I’m going to take a crack at it, but will undoubtedly forget some people. But here’s what I can think of right now with a cat demanding petsies.

Mom, sweetie, and proto-incipient step-daughter come first. Living with a writer ain’t easy.

Chris Kennedy gave me a bunch of opportunities. I can’t thank him enough. James L. Young let me write in all 3 Phases of Mars, and those are good stories. Jamie Ibson let me break his soul in We Dare. Mark Wandrey kept encouraging me, especially his help in the 4HU. Kevin Ikenberry helped a ton with the Peacemaker aspects of my 4HU stuff. Frankly, let’s just thank all of the crew that Chris has gathered about him. They’re all making me better.

Kellie Hultgren did a great job editing my personal stuff and teaching me how to become a better writer. The staff at Brewbakers put up with me, and I rewarded them with tuckering it in “Silent Knight.”

Drix helped me grow my SCA sales presence. Tons of people encouraged me. One even allowed me to stay at her family’s lake house for a week of writing and solitude. I need to schedule this sort of thing once or twice a year.

Despite not getting None Call Me Mother out and spinning my wheels a bit, 2019 was definitely my best year so far. And it’s not close.

I’m growing leaps and bounds as a writer. My most recent project has helped me turn things I knew instinctively into things I understand. This is already showing up in None Call Me Mother and in “Silent Knight,” not to mention my earlier growth in 2019.

2019 was my best year.

2020 will be better. Lot’s better. We’re building something here and I will tell you all about what’s coming in a few days.

For now, though. Thanks to all of you. I really appreciate it.

Happy New Year!

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Fitzalan to Arundel

Week 46 of 2019

Greetings all

I’m a day late on this blog post but I thought that might happen. We had plans last night and I was not able to get the update done before we left.

What did we do? Well, I’m glad you asked. After our first date, I invited my sweetie to go see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood live. They basically do a longer form version of Whose Line is it Anyway, which allows them to do some improved versions of some games and also some other games that are just too long to do in the TV format.

Colin and Brad with my Sweetie
Colin and Brad with my Sweetie

Unfortunately, my sweetie wasn’t able to join me. It was really a shame because I had even gotten the meet & greet tickets. They shook our hands, exchanged a few words, and took a picture. After they took my picture, I explained that my sweetie couldn’t come and I asked if they would take this picture.

Immediately after the show, I texted my sweetie that picture. This was a moment of truth. If she laughed a lot, there was a definite chance for us to last. If she didn’t, well, better to know then.

She laughed. A lot. Still does.

So last night Colin and Brad were in town and we finally got to have our second date. Sadly, there weren’t meet and greet tickets, probably because they’re in Naperville, IL tonight. However, we had a wonderful time. They are really good at this and they have a brilliant way of keeping threads winding through the show. If you have a chance, you should go at least once. The truth is, you can go every night since every show is different.

That was a great conclusion to a good week here. I made a lot of progress with None Call Me Mother. I’m aiming to get a draft to the editor by the end of the year. If I keep going like I am that’ll happen. I worry about the holidays distracting me, but it doesn’t look like we’re going on any long trips.

With the help of my editor Kellie Hultgren, I figured out a problem that’s been nagging at me on a short story. It’s a subtle thing, as the story has a bunch of good elements, but I forgot the Rule of Three. The conclusion seemed tacked on, when in fact I aimed for it all along. That’s an easy fix and I should have that story to the editor by Thanksgiving.

Speaking of short stories, my story Here Must We Hold will come out on 13 December as part of Trouble In the Wind. This is the third of the Phases of Mars military alternate history anthologies and focuses on land combat. I don’t know if James Young and Chris Kennedy will do more, but I’ve had a blast writing these and hope to do more. The first two, Far Better to Dare and In Dark’ning Storms could quite easily be the basis for many more stories. I couldn’t quite get a land story that worked for me, but there are more sea and air stories waiting to happen.

Today, we started putting finishing touches on the floor in the great room. All that’s left is some touch up on the quarter-round, putting in the thresholds, and putting back the outlet covers. Since the bookcases all got moved, we’re also cleaning and oiling the wood-paneled walls. Tomorrow we’ll start putting bookcases back in.

An exciting week as we get closer to things getting done.

What I’m Listening To

I made a slight change here. Many times of late it’s been something other than a song on my playlist so I’m changing the title to match reality.

Anyway, right now, I’m listening to my usual on fall Saturday sort of thing, a college football game. Right now it’s SMU v. Navy. I love watching Navy play. In fact, I love watching every triple option team play. There’s a gorgeous ballet in that offense. It’s limited and only works now because so few run it, but it’s so fun when executed well. It’s perfect for the service academies because it relies on discipline and execution more than athleticism.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of William Fitzalan, 9th earl of Arundel. Who? A player in the War of the Roses, and a name I’m intimately familiar with because of the game Kingmaker. If you’ve played the game, this quote will be quite familiar.

“Piracy: Fitzalan to Arundal, Beaufort to Corfe
Killed: Cromwell, Graystoke
4-1 Victory”
– Kingmaker Card

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (76,951)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (8,163)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on William Joseph Roberts, who just released a new book called fLUX Runners. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1845 and the book at: https://www.amazon.com/fLUX-Runners-William-Joseph-Roberts-ebook/dp/B081M3XKBV/.

Today’s Weight: 394.4

Updated Word Count: 196,635

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Catching Up

Today was a day for cleaning out my email, working on promotional stuff like my website, and planning on new conventions. Let’s see if I can remember everything I did:

  • Registered for World Fantasy Con in October.
  • Registered for WorldCon in August.
  • Registered on Goodreads as an author.
  • Updated my Amazon authors page.
  • Updated my website. More images and general coolness.
  • Made a new banner for the website.
  • Put a bunch of links to my wiki for the World of Shijuren.
  • Sent information to LibertyCon for two of my Authors Alley books.
  • Updated my WordPress blog site with some new images.
  • And, oh yeah, actually did a blog post.

Not a bad day’s work. Lots of important things taken care of.

My favorite, as you will find out, is the Shijuren wiki at http://www.robhowell.org/shijuren. Basically, this will ultimately be the entire repository of all my Shijuren world-building. There are only 170 or so entries right now, but I’m adding them consistently. There are also snippets of the novels you can find by searching “From the Books,” including snippets of I Am a Wondrous Thing, which will be released in June. So if you want to find sneak peaks, you can search for “IAAWT” for the pieces I’ve put up already. More is coming.

I keep learning things. Like I didn’t realize Goodreads was attached to Amazon, so I never made an author’s page there. I’m fixing that. I also learned that Amazon doesn’t necessarily link new works to an author’s page. Fixed that too.

I also added a few more images to my Amazon page and my official website. If you watch my Facebook page, you might very well have seen them already, but they’re some of my favorites of me. I also made a new banner image for the website and this blog, including one of the images I added. I think it’s pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

I should take this time to thank Patrick McEvoy. I keep finding new ways to use the cover art he did for A Lake Most Deep. He did a fantastic job, and I’m really liking what’s coming from it. I’ll be unveiling a new actual banner this weekend at Kansas City’s ComicCon that is also based on that artwork and I think it will look fantastic.

I’m clearing the decks because Kellie has given me the next edits of I Am a Wondrous Thing. I’ll be pounding away at getting that ready for publishing as soon as possible. I have to say, I really enjoy working with Kellie. She’s not only great at catching mistakes, but also places where I’ve not necessarily made a mistake, but could use strengthening. I can’t recommend her enough.

I’m also really excited about ComicCon this weekend, but I’ll talk about my excitement on a post later this week.

Now, I think it’s time for some lounging and thinking about how to execute all the directives Kellie gave me.

Cheers all

 

Ad-Astra AAR

When the only thing I didn’t like about Ad Astra was the printing snafu that messed up the locations on the mini-schedule attached to my badge, then it’s probably safe to say it was a successful con.

I was on 4 panels, went to a meet and greet, and had a reading. All of these were firsts for me, and generally went very well.

The first panel discussed the relationship between a self-publisher and their editor. This was probably the panel I contributed the most, because Kellie Hultgren has trained me well. We have worked out a good system, generally speaking, and I was able to discuss the things that have worked well for us. Beverly Bambury moderated the panel well, and I was joined by Charlotte Ashley, Jennifer Jaquith, and Ness Ricci-Thode. Jack Whyte, yes that Jack Whyte, complimented me afterwards, which was quite a thrill for me.

My second panel was not quite as smooth, and that panel talked about food and cuisine in speculative fiction. Why did it not go as smooth? I think it’s because all three of us hit our main talking points so well and quickly that, for the last 20 minutes or so, we floundered a bit looking for things to talk about. Mostly we repeated some of the things we had already said. Still, it went pretty well, just I think our panel of me, Costi Gorgu, and Erik Buchanon might have gotten boring and repetitive at the end.

My third panel covered books signings, festivals, and conventions. Basically the nuts and bolts of getting involved with these as a self-published author. I actually felt a little out of my depth here, as I don’t have a ton of experience. However, I do have experience as a moderator from academic conferences, so I claimed that role since the con did not assign that to any one person. My two co-presenters, Mark Lefebvre and Sarah WaterRaven, did a really good job and I definitely learned a number of things I’m looking forward to implementing.  I did a pretty good job of moderating. Were I to have been assigned the task ahead of time, I would have done a little better, nevertheless, we covered the topic well, filled the time, and flowed well. I’m pleased.

My fourth panel was on Sunday at 1pm, and it talked about marketing and publicity. I again felt a little out of my depth at first, but Beverly, who had moderated my first panel, did a real good job of steering things in my direction and I definitely contributed. I probably took things off the rails a bit as I talked about my wiki at www.robhowell.org/shijuren and my plans for it, but otherwise it went great. Especially since it was Sunday at 1pm and I was tired. Also on the panel were Sarah WaterRaven and MJ Moores who both gave me some nice ideas.

On Saturday, Sarah WaterRaven hosted a meet and greet of self-published authors. While the authors outnumbered the readers, I was still pleased with this event. I got to talk to a few people, sold a couple of books, and released a couple more in the drawing.

Finally, my last official involvement was on Sunday at 3pm for a reading. Four people showed up. More than I expected actually. Three other authors were there, Brandon Draga, Catherine Fitzsimmons, and Cameron Currie.

I’m not surprised that I can do a reading well, given my theater background, but I definitely need to get a better plan of attack. The part I chose to read was the part where Edward enters the Gropa Mansion in the end of A Lake Most Deep and the start of the final Agatha Christie-style get all the possible suspects together and reveal the villain scene. I like my choice in many ways, but it was a little long for me to get the most impact. However, I have a much better idea of how long it takes me to read a chunk. I’ll do better next time.

I did some other socializing in the Green Room, and a little in the Con Suite, but not much. I came down with a cold on Thursday, and I dinged my foot at Ard Chreag fighter practice on Monday, so I was pushing hard to bring the energy to my panels. I need to work on my stamina in general, but also to get full value out of my convention appearances, especially if I’m not at my best.

I need to also do a better job of planning how to sell my books at conventions. Basically, I just need to get my ducks in a row and know the plan. What are the con rules? The laws of the location? That sort of thing. Then, I need to make sure I actually mention my books are on sale when it is appropriate. I’m not good at that. I would have sold many more had I had a better plan.

I also need to make bookmarks with www.amazon.ca QR codes for Canadian conventions.

Still, it was a productive con for me. I handed out a bunch of business cards and met a lot of people. Also, I’m learning that my approach to this profession is correct, even if I haven’t sold a ton yet. I’ll be an overnight success after some years of working at this.

Thanks to Pasi Paltanen for suggesting I come up. I hope I can afford to do so next year. Also, thanks to Gary Russell and Brad Hruboska for being my extra-special cheering section on Saturday.

My next con appearance is Kansas City Planet ComicCon. I’m really excited to see how this goes, but I’ll forever get to say I’m a guest at the same con as Stan Lee, George Takei, Alan Tudyk, and Kevin Smith. And a whole bunch of others.

If you’re in the KC area, it’ll be worth your while to come. I’ll be in the Creative Alley area with books for sale. Come join me.